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Katie's Corner: Here comes the Sugar Shack

New Menlo Park shop is candy heaven for kids of all ages

On Friday, March 30, the Sugar Shack opened its doors in downtown Menlo Park. When I heard about this candy wonderland, I had to go see for myself.

As I walked into the store at 816 Santa Cruz Ave., the first thing that caught my attention was the seemingly endless variety of candies that covered the walls. I was given a plastic bag and then I walked through the store filling my bag with a number of delights.

The colors and types of candy were incredible. Megan Terpening, a fifth-grader at St. Raymond School, says she "found candy that I never knew existed."

Bella Lovazzano of Woodside, a second grader at St. Raymond School, says: "It's awesome! It's the best sugar place ever!"

I personally loved the crunchy and chocolate gummy bears, and the chocolate covered marshmallow bites just melt in your mouth.

After I had filled my bag with mouth watering candy, I wandered to the other side of the store. Hanging on the walls that were not occupied with candy were hand-painted pictures that looked good enough to eat. These edible looking canvases of candy, soda pop, and ice cream were created just for the Candy Shack by artist Carol Walker of Sebastopol.

I was amazed at the enormous jawbreakers that were larger than 2 inches around! Kids, teenagers and adults crowded the store. Many of the adults were near the retro candy.

The two wonderful ladies who have brought us this beautiful shop do not want anyone to feel left out so they are also carrying a large selection of sugar-free candy that look as delectable as the sugar-filled kind.

If you're not into eating candy you might want to wear it, there is a selection of candy-scented body lotions and lip gloss from a company called "SUGAR."

If you think this a lot, there is much more. Now, what would a candy store be without a picture of our very own Mr. Willy Wonka! In the store, there is a television screen playing the movie, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Surrounding this screen is a soda bar that offers retro glass bottled drinks like Dr. Pepper, Crush, Gingerale, and Henry Weinhart's Root Beer, Vanilla Cream Pop and of course, Diet Coke.

So, whom do we have to thank for bringing all of this sweetness to Menlo Park? The two owners are Beth Donnelly-Yancey and Suzi Tinsley. Beth has lived in the area since she was in high school, and she now lives in Atherton with her husband and two children. Suzi Tinsley grew up in Atherton and now lives in Menlo Park with her husband and their seven children.

These two very sweet ladies met through mutual friends 13 years ago and have kept up a great friendship. They both told me they LOVE CANDY.

"I always thought about having a candy store since my first job working for Mrs. McCarthy at the Candy Depot in Menlo Park," Suzi says.

They also wanted to have a fun place for kids to gather and hang out with their friends. Since the Juice Patch had closed, they felt that Menlo Park needed a store like theirs. This gave Beth and Suzi the perfect opportunity to put their plan into action.

I was amazed to learn they started their plans for this local candy store in September 2006 and had only acquired the space in December. They worked very quickly with the help of designer Melissa Bader of Design Corner in Redwood Shores. Melissa has done such a spectacular job decorating, even the knobs on the cabinets are fun to look at.

The Sugar Shack has created a buzz in the community. Suzi made more than 75 Easter baskets for customers. You see many people in town with a Sugar Shack bag. Even Father Patrick Michaels of the Saint Raymond Parish was spotted with a bag full of sugar-free candy he got at the Sugar Shack.

Suzi and Beth say they are very grateful with the turnout of people and the support they are receiving from the locals. In the future, the owners hope to offer book signings, book clubs, parties, seasonal activities and other fun events.

Soon there will also be a "Sugar Shack" candy cart available for special events. I suspect Halloween will be great, especially since Suzi and her family love Halloween so much. She told me that she has a real hearse parked in her front yard as part of her Halloween decor.

The Sugar Shack is a candy heaven. So watch out Willy Wonka, here comes the Sugar Shack!

INFORMATION: The Sugar Shack is located at 816 Santa Cruz Ave. in downtown Menlo Park. It's open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and evenings and Sundays for private events. For information, call 325-0800 or go to http://www.mpsugarshack.com .

Katie Blankenberg, 13, lives in Portola Valley and attends St. Raymond School in Menlo Park.

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